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Writeidea Programme Sunday

All the events are FREE. You can just come along on the day but most events will be very popular and we strongly advise booking a ticket in advance. We allocate more tickets than there is capacity in order to allow for the high number of no-shows that unfortunately happen when events are free of charge. Please arrive early as entry to events is on a first come-first served basis.

For hearing impaired members of the audience, a number of our events will have live subtitles, also known as speech-to-text transcription (STT) provided by Stage Text These will be marked with the Stage text logo.


Sunday 18 November

garth cartwright

Garth Cartwright 1:00pm
Going For A Song: A Chronicle Of The UK Record Shop

Going For A Song explores the rise and fall (and partial resurrection) of the UK record shop. Detailed here are Whitechapel’s shellac synagogues, Soho’s post-WW2 jazz, blues and folk merchants, Jamaican ska shacks and the techno temples. Featuring cameos from Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Prince Buster, David Bowie, Thin Lizzy, The Clash, BB King, Pete Burns, Danny Baker and others, Going for a Song tells tall, true tales of how record shops shaped musical culture.


altab ali

The Legacy of Altab Ali 1:00pm
2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the murder of Altab Ali, a 25 year old Bangladeshi textile worker killed in racist attack as he walked home after work. The murder provoked the mass mobilisation of the Bengali community in Tower Hamlets and Ali became a symbol of resistance against racism. We will be showing two short films about the events made by Ruhul Amin, Purbo London and New Eastenders followed by a panel discussion about the impact of the murder and the fightback by the local community.



Lesbian Fiction Discussion 1:00pm
Author readings and panel discussion: meet three London-based lesbian fiction authors whose latest novels cover crime, psychological drama and romance. 
Veronica Fearon is a former criminal lawyer, turned writer; Clare Lydon is an international best-selling author of lesbian romance; Sam Skyborne writes books to spark the imagination with strong female lead characters.


jason cowley

Jason Cowley 1:00pm
Reaching for Utopia

New Statesman editor Jason Cowley will be discussing his new book Reaching for Utopia which brings together essays and profiles chronicling the remarkable political and cultural transformations of the last decade – from the fall of Blair to the rise of Corbyn. The book is a thematic compilation that explains, through personal interviews with key politicians and others, how the country got to the position it’s in now with Brexit looming and with competing visions for what Britain may look like in the aftermath.

This event will have live subtitles


basil olton

Basil Olton 1:00pm
a necessary fiction

Basil Olton will talk about his exhibition a necessary fiction currently on display at Idea Store Whitechapel. The art work in this exhibition reflects the life and work of the former Stepney resident, black communist and trade unionist Chris Braithwaite (1889-1944) who was originally from Barbados. Through the manipulation of original archives and photography, screen printing and ceramics, Basil Olton’s artwork highlights the redacted history of black social radicalism in the East End. This exhibition was funded by the Arts Council as part of BHM 2017 at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives and is being re-staged for those that missed it.


melanie whitman

Melanie Whipman 1:00pm
Re-writing the Self

Have you ever considered writing a blog or a memoir? Or perhaps you’d simply like to pull on some of your personal experiences and turn them into fiction. In this one hour course we’ll be experimenting with using real life events and personal history as inspiration for writing. You’ll learn how to collate, edit and transform your memories into engaging prose.


david stubbs

David Stubbs 2:30pm
Mars by 1980 the Story of Electronic Music

Join author David Stubbs in conversation about his latest book, Mars by 1980 in which he charts the evolution of electronic music. Its beginnings are in the world of avant-classical composition, but the book also encompasses the cosmic funk of Stevie Wonder, Giorgio Moroder and unforgettable eighties electronic pop from the likes of Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys and Laurie Anderson, right up to the present day innovators on the underground scene.


les clayden

Leslie Clayden 2:30pm
Swimming With Stingrays The Other Side Of Life

‘I was born in June 1951 in Mile End Hospital, making me a true Cockney. I could never understand how anyone born south of the Thames could pretend to be Cockney, when you were supposed to be born within the sound of Bow Bells. They must have had Superman’s hearing!’

And so begins the story of Les ‘Gentleman’ Clayden, former Whitechapel market trader. From the east end to Japan; from Miss World to arm wrestling, prepare to laugh and cry as you journey through the life of one of the nicest men around.


charlie kiss

Charlie Kiss 2:30pm
A New Man

Charlie Kiss, a trans man reads from his book A New Man: Lesbian/Protest/Mania/Trans man. Charlie lived for many years as a lesbian feminist and was an activist at Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. In his twenties he suffered from severe bi-polar episodes connected to struggles over gender identity and an insecure background. In time Charlie realised that that in order to be happy, to be himself, he had to transition to male.


neil faulkner

Neil Faulkner 2:30pm
A Radical History of the World

Join Marxist historian, Neil Faulkner in conversation about his book A Radical History of the World. This is a sweeping history from the hunter-gatherers two million years ago to the ancient empires of Persia and China, and from the Russian Revolution to modern imperialism and the 2008 crash. What happened in the past was not predetermined. Different outcomes — liberation or barbarism - were often possible. Rejecting the top-down approach of conventional history, Faulkner contends that it is the mass action of ordinary people that drives great events.

This event will have live subtitles


c g menon

C.G. Menon 2:30pm
Subjunctive Moods

The stories in Subjunctive Moods are based around those tiny moments of missed connection and of realisation: the heartbeats by which we all grow up.

Featuring CG Menon’s prize-winning writing alongside her most recent stories, Subjunctive Moods is a collection exploring the complexities of human relationships, cultural identity, and finding your way back home.


city of stories

City of Stories 3:30 - 5:00pm
This is an event to celebrate the City of Stories a project run by London’s libraries in partnership with Spread the Word, London’s writer development agency. As part of City of Stories Bidisha, novelist and creative writing tutor, ran two workshops in Idea Store Whitechapel, to support local communities in telling their own stories. During Writeidea Bidisha will return to Whitechapel to facilitate an open-mic session, where we will invite the winner and highly commended writers of Tower Hamlets to read their work. 


allan jones

Allan Jones  4:00pm
Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down: Rock’n’Roll War Stories

Allan Jones joined Melody Maker in the early 70s and then launched Uncut magazine in 1997. For 15 years he wrote a popular monthly column called Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before, based on his experiences as a music journalist in the 70s and 80s.
Here he  puts  those encounters into a book interviewing legends of Rock N Roll, like Lou Reed, Bowie, and Van Morrison with hilarious consequences, sometimes hard to believe but always hilariously entertaining. 


simon miller

Simon Miller 4:00pm

Simon Miller lived in Cameroon in the 1970s and heard about the rape and murder of a young American woman in the mid-1950s.  He was never convinced by the official account of what happened and years later decided to write an alternative version. Ebolowa is the result. It’s a smart and slick noir-style thriller with a political edge, rich in international themes such as corruption and greed, and wonderful West African life.


simon hannah

Simon Hannah 4:00pm
A Party with Socialists in it

For over a hundred years, the British Labour Party has been a bastion for working class organisation and struggle. However, has it ever truly been on the side of the workers? Where do its interests really lie? And can we rely on it to provide a barrier against right-wing forces? By looking into its history, Simon Hannah shines a light on the internal dynamics of the ‘party with socialists in it’, as Tony Benn once called it.


mile end community project

Mile End Community Project & Department of Linguistics, QMUL 4:00pm
Bridging the Gap

Were you told stories by your grandparents? Did they speak the same language as you? Will you tell these stories to your own children? Are stories important for maintaining your mother tongue? Stories from Home is a series of short films created as part of the Bridging the Gap storytelling project.
The project aims to promote heritage language use, as well as reconnect and increase cultural awareness across generations within the London Bangladeshi community. This is collaboration between the Mile End Community Project, Queen Mary University of London,Human Stories, Blooming Parenting, Stebon primary school and Thomas Buxton primary school.


viv albertine

Viv Albertine 5:30pm
To Throw Away Unopened

The legendary Punk guitarist Viv Albertine returns to Writeidea to talk about her new memoir, To Throw Away Unopened, a fearless dissection of one woman’s obsession with the truth – the truth about family, power, and her identity as a rebel and outsider. “A chronicle of outsiderness that goes beyond her years in the Slits to explore class and gender, her parents and sibling rivalry, and why she’s done with men”. (The Guardian)

This event will have live subtitles


eric levene

Eric Levene 5:30pm
Feinstein’s Theory of Relatives and Other Hessel Street Stories

Feinstein’s Theory of Relatives and Other Hessel Street Stories is a collection of  humorous fictional tales set in and around the Jewish East End of London during the late 1940s and early 1950s. The stories are based on Eric Levene’s vague recollections of growing up in Hessel Street during this period, which is why the book is a ‘work of fiction and not fact.’


hannah vincent

Hannah Vincent 5:30pm
The Weaning

When professional couple Nikki and Rob uncover their childminder Bobbi’s secret, everything changes.The Weaning is a book about love and loss and the individual journeys that lie buried beneath newspaper headlines. Hannah Vincent wrote this gripping page-turner, her second novel, as part of a PhD in Creative & Critical Writing at the University of Sussex, investigating autobiographic practice. It reads both as a meditation on the act of reading and writing as well as a gripping suspense narrative.


john Broughton

John Boughton 5:30pm
Municipal Dreams: the Rise and Fall of Council Housing

For almost four decades, we have been taught to see public spending as a bad thing; ruthless economising as a virtue. John Boughton’s respected blog, Municipal Dreams, shows there is an alternative. His book of the same name celebrates a time when dreams of shelter and security for all – not just those who could afford to purchase it – were in large part made a reality, and asks us if we oughtn’t to consider reviving that dream before it gets destroyed completely.




Storytelling with Nell Phoenix 5:30pm

Nell Phoenix is a London-based professional storyteller with a global reputation for telling tales that excite and arouse the imagination. Her stories are traditional, re-told to amaze, provoke wonder and awe, and to make you laugh!

She has performed with theatre companies for 12 years touring all around the world – from the Blackpool Grand to the Sydney Opera House; all over the UK, Ireland, Eastern and Western Europe, Australia and in all sorts of spaces and places in-between.

Teaching storytelling, improvisation and devising skills is a key part of Nell’s work. She runs courses, weekly classes and workshops for all ages. She has run sessions for students, teachers, librarians, priests, would-be and developing storytellers.

She is Artistic Director of StoryNight at Torriano, Kentish Town's thriving performance storytelling clubs for adults. Nell is a passionate promoter of storytelling as a contemporary performance art. 

Change in schedule. Previously Storytelling with TUUP.



Chris Difford 7:00pm
Some Fantastic Place

Chris Difford is one of the founding members of new-wave band Squeeze and co-writer of Up the Junction and other pop classics: in the eighties he and his writing partner Glen Tilbrook were hailed as the new Lennon & McCartney. Some Fantastic Place covers a lot of ground: his south London childhood; the band’s ups and downs; and his non-Squeeze detours, including managing Bryan Ferry. Some Fantastic Place is distinguished by its admirable candour: Unlike many artists, Difford is reflective about the obstacles he’s had to overcome, including flying anxiety, substance abuse, and relationship breakdowns; and he is direct and forthcoming about how these things inform his life and music, even now. However, Difford’s dry sense of humour also shines through - for instance, speaking of the band’s first, ill-fated U.S. gig, at The Lighthouse in Bethlehem, New Jersey, he writes, “We literally played to one man and a dog. We were forced to play a second set by the owner. The dog left.”